Meetings set about downtown ‘play space’

Back in the days Frank Hohenberger roamed Brown County with a camera, the “Four Corners” at Main and Jefferson streets were the entertainment center of Nashville.

Street fairs were fairly frequent. Folks of all ages gathered to talk and play together. Sometimes, bleachers were set up on the Village Green building’s side lawn and a tented stage in the middle of Main Street.

“It used to be, 1948 and earlier, that that was the center of town. We want to try to take that back to being the main focus of where people go,” said Town Utility Coordinator Sean Cassiday, leafing through a stack of black-and-white photographs.

What will be discussed Thursday, March 10 is putting an all-ages, accessible play space on the southeast corner — the one on which the new public restrooms are being constructed.

Meetings to explain the idea and gather comments have been set for noon to 1 p.m. and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 200 Commercial St. Participants are not expected to attend both.

Cassiday and Chief Administrator Phyllis Carr described an area where adults could gather for card games or chess and children could play on the lawn.

Since the town began its three-year planning process, several boards and commissions have mentioned the need for a play area, Carr said. It surfaced in public comments into the plan, too.

“We have no place for the kids. It’s something to really look at,” she said.

The town plans to apply for a $50,000 Place Based Investment Fund grant through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

The grants are for projects which improve both the quality of life and tourism experience in a community, OCRA reports.

If the grant is received, the town would need to find $50,000 cash to match it with. Carr said $25,000 of in-kind services have been pledged, for a possible budget total of $125,000.

In addition to the play space, there’s also been talk of redoing the old town pump to the way it looked in the mid-1900s, Cassiday said. It doesn’t actually pump anymore, but the surrounding structure could use some repairs.

Eventually, committee members would like to see small play spaces tucked into the other corners, too — in a way that wouldn’t impede the corners’ use for events, like the Methodist Church’s FallFare.

“We don’t want to hinder anything that goes on down there. We want to add to it,” Cassiday said.

The grant application is due April 8 and recipients will be announced May 5. Construction must be done within 18 months, Carr said.

“Once it goes, it’ll go pretty quickly,” Cassiday said, mentioning volunteers offering to help.

The grant application is also on the agenda of the Nashville Parking and Public Facilities Development Corporation and Nashville Arts and Entertainment Commission’s joint meeting at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 3.

Sara Clifford has been raising a family in Brown County since 2005 and leading the Brown County Democrat since late 2009. In addition to editor, she is the beat reporter for town government and writes columns, features and general news stories.